Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill



Rafe goes to camp, faces bullying, copes with gross humor.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Like the other books in the Middle School series, there is some valuable insight into bullies and bullying. There's also a pro-reading agenda. Bunkmate Norman (aka Booger-Eater) is an avid reader and entices book-adverse Rafe into becoming a book lover. Norman recommends many popular tween titles, including Holes and The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Positive messages

Rafe is known for his perseverance in the face of adversity. At camp he and his bunkmates are bullied incessantly. Rafe helps his cabin pull together to avoid being persecuted by the Bobcats. Rafe also helps Norman shake "Booger-Eater" the nickname that has haunted him summer after summer. 

Positive role models

As is typical of this series, Rafe is always in trouble with the authorities, in this case camp director Major Sherwood, aka "The Dictator." In the end, Rafe chooses helping a friend over his own comfort. Adult characters for the most part are not helpful and portrayed as stupid or insensitive. 


There's a wide variety of bullying at camp --not particularly violent, but very mean spirited words and pranks. The adults at the camp consider it "all in fun," but it isn't. 


Rafe is attracted to the lifeguard/math teacher at camp. His fantasies about her are benign and age-appropriate. The Bobcats steal bras from the girls' camp and hang one on the flag pole.


No swearing, but a lot of gross slang, including lots of toilet humor. 


Bunkmate Norman is an avid reader and there is a nice subcurrent of books throughout the story. The authors plug many popular tween reads as well as the other three books in their Middle School series. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Bobcats sneak off at night to smoke. Norman's dad is abusive and drinks."Bad dads" are depicted in a comic-like illustration drinking and smoking.  

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill, is the fourth book in the series following Middle School: The First Years of My Life, Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!, and Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar. Although there's an underlying anti-bullying message, there's also a lot of gross humor, and protagonist Rafe isn't as interesting a character as in the first two books. He does help his bunkmates, but the book is missing the interesting underlying conflicts that drive him. Still, tweens will find this a good quick read with lots of great illustrations. 

What's the story?

Rafe arrives at Camp Wannamorra and discovers it's a summer school/summer camp with lessons every morning! He also finds out he's in the \"loser cabin,\" The Muskrats. The Bobcats, the \"cool cabin,\" have labeled him and the other Muskrats \"Dead Meat\" and take every opportunity to bully them with words or mean pranks. Led by their leader, Doolin, the Bobcats are the worst kind of bullies. Their sole mission at camp is to make life miserable for the Muskrats. Adult characters for the most part are not helpful and portrayed as stupid. Major Sherwood, the camp director, considers the bullying harmless razzing and all part of camp fun. Rafe unites his bunkmates and gains some short-lived relief from the Bobcats. Although Rafe ends up being kicked out of camp (no spoiler here, Rafe tells us himself in the first few pages), he does so to help his friend Norman.


Is it any good?


This fourth book, which sees Rafe continuing his daily battles with bullies, is the least interesting of Patterson's Middle School series, with a less cohesive plot and characters. That said, there are some interesting twists. The scary bunkmate Legend turns out to have a kind heart and helps protect the other Muskrats from the bullying Bobcats. Norman, whom Doolin had given the camp nickname "Booger Eater" years ago, reveals to Rafe a bit about his unhappy home life and abusive father. For Norman, coming to Camp Wannamorra is a picnic compared with a summer at home.

Norman's love of reading is his key to survival, and he's able to turn Rafe on to the joy of books. Ultimately, even with its weaknesses, the book's middle school humor and engaging illustrations will appeal to many readers.


Families can talk about...

  • With the help of bunkmate Norman and some extra time on his hands, Rafe discovers a book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) that turns him into a reader. Look over this list of Essential Books for Kids and Teens to find a great read. 

  • Like the other books in this series, Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill explores bullying, sometimes with humor. What can you or your friends do if you are bullied? How can bullying with words be as hurtful as physical bullying? See the Common Sense Media article "Bullying is Everybody's Business."

Book details

Authors:James Patterson, Chris Tebbetts
Illustrator:Laura Park
Topics:Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:June 24, 2013
Number of pages:310
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKedar Miller July 26, 2013

Summary of Middle School:How I survived Bullies,Broccoli,and Snake Hill

This book was about Rafe Khatchadorian and his story of Camp Wannamorra.Ok so in Rafe previous books there is always this problem and rafe has to figure out how to fix it. Now in this book Rafe’s problem is that his cabin mates get teased and bullied especially Norman who has been called Booger Eater since he was 6 yrs. old. So first Rafe tries to fit in with the muskrats and make them his friends. Second he meets the bullies of the camp called The Bobcats and their leader Doolin. Even as the story starts Doolin and his goons start trouble with the Muskrats by trashing their cabin and placing a paper that said “Welcome To Loserville.”Rafe didn’t know then but that was the beginning of a war. As we left off The Bobcats have just trashed the Muskrats cabin but Rafe noticed that when the Muskrats saw it they just acted like nothing happened and just cleaned it up. But he was not going to let that go so easily.While dinner that night The Bobcats were yelling “What’s for dinner” “Dead Meat” and as they were doing that a old man was clapping for silence for the after-dinner announcements. Rafe asked who is that they said “Thats Major Sherwood they call him the Dictator. They told Rafe he definitely didn’t want to get on his bad side. And he doesn’t have a good side. As we was talking about the rules, guidelines, and expectations but Rafe just thought that was another way of saying rules, rules,and more rules and if you know Rafe you know he does not like rules. So as the summer school starts Rafe just wishes it would end quickly until he get to his fourth period teacher Katie Kim who was his dream teacher. But the was one more period after that it was a all reading period from Major Sherwood turns out he loves reading. But thats the thing Rafe didn’t have a book so he was just drawing. But, not for long after the fourth period Major Sherwood made an announcement that said “If you don’t have a book head down to the library.NOW.” Rafe went got a big book and put his drawing book inside of it and started to draw. So as the summer continued there were things that got into his way like the Bobcats and Major Sherwood but one of the worst times were when Doolin and his goons set legend up to get sent home. Now what was the Camp dance came and everyone had to go so Rafe went he saw all the girls he even saw his sister Georgia. As the dance went on Rafe had gotten ask by Georgia to dance so they dance but as they were dancing everyone started to run out side Rafe found that this was a way of get out of dancing so he ran outside and he saw girl under wear on the flag post. But after the dance was over everyone became sicily so people thought it was the punch and chips. It was Doolin and his goons who did it but they framed legend by planting underwear and a black bottle. So Sherwood kicked him out of the camp. That event gave The Bobcats leverage over them because since they just lost their best weapon.So as the story continues until another event happened like that. It was the play of the camp Doolin was snoopy in the play of Charlie Brown. He started making fun of Norman by doing things like pretending to picking his nose and reading with big glasses. Rafe looked at Norman turned and looked again Norman was gone. The whole camp had searched for him and no one could find him.So as everyone went to bed to try and seach the next day but, Rafe kept looking and he found Norman. But thats the thing Norman didn’t want to go back so they went back in the morning but norman was more scared to get sent. And it wasn’t because he left it was the night before while Rafe was sleep Norman went to Sherwood’s cabin and trashed it. So when they got back everyone thought Rafe did it because no one knew where he was but norman knew that was a lie and once Rafe knew what happened he took the blame and got sent home.But before he left with his mother him and the Muskrats went and trashed the Bobcats cabin and then Rafe went home. Norman mailed Rafe that said “Thanks for everything i'm not Booger Eater any more and the bobcats stop teasing me and all The Muskrats if you need anything tell me” “your friend Norman.”
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 5, 8, and 14 year old Written byLikronsta October 2, 2013

Wonderful book for kids

This book is good for kids, it teaches them that the adults are people too and no smarter than the children. People that create crazy rules like going 2 times in the restroom or all of the restriction and bad treatment that comes from school. If you want to rise healthy and independent individual , young women and man with critical thinking that is the right book. It has a lot of sense of humor and the point of view of the author represent the voice of the children.
Kid, 9 years old June 29, 2013


a very good book for kids 9 and up
What other families should know
Educational value


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